ANDALUSIA, Ala. — An Alabama woman who was in the process of being arrested for hosting a house party despite COVID-19 social distancing requirements coughed in the face of one of the officers placing her in custody, authorities said.
Melanie Nicole Chambers, 39, of Andalusia, is charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of the state health officer’s current suspension of gatherings, Andalusia city officials said. Chambers’ total bail was set at $23,500.
Andalusia police Chief Paul Hudson said officers received a complaint Monday night about loud music coming from a home on Brewton Street.
“When officers arrived, they found a party of about 40 to 50 people,” Hudson said in a statement. “They also smelled an odor of marijuana.”
Officers approached Chambers, the tenant of the home, who became irate with officers, Hudson said.
Chambers is also accused of coughing in an officer’s face and saying something about COVID-19 and the coronavirus pandemic.
As of noon Wednesday, Alabama had at least 5,445 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, with 193 reported deaths.
Covington County, where Andalusia is the county seat, had 27 confirmed cases and no reported deaths, Alabama health officials said.
A search warrant executed Monday on Chambers’ rental home turned up marijuana and drug paraphernalia, Hudson said.
The chief said Chambers’ arrest marked the first time the department has charged someone with violation of the state’s stay-at-home order.
“We are handling this on a case-by-case basis,” Hudson said. “If participants refuse to comply with the order, we have to take steps to enforce it.”
Hudson also praised the officers who responded and handled the situation.
“Three officers initially responded, and they did a good job of keeping order and getting back-up,” he said.